What can I do to improve my health, Doc?

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As a family doctor, I look after patients throughout their lives, from birth to death. In addition to helping patient with their health concerns, I am always promoting the benefits of good nutrition and regular physical activity. A few weeks ago, one of my patients motivated by his father passing away from a heart attack took me up on my suggestion to improve his lifestyle. Being very active when he was younger he had lots of ideas on how to increase his physical activity. Where he wanted help was on the diet side.

Here is what I told him.  I think that many others may find these tips helpful.

  1. You can get an physical activity tracker (eg. FITBIT, Jawbone, Garmin, Nike).  Other patients have found these to help give them some motivation.
  2. On the diet side – Often I suggest people use track what they eat for a day or two on My Fitness Pal or other food diary application to get a sense of where your trouble spots are.

In addition, here are some of my quick eating tips that I tell patients in my office:

  1. Ensure you have a fruit as part of breakfast. Most people don’t do this. But if you are going to get 7-10 servings of vegetables or fruit in each day you need to start with breakfast.
  2. Make your lunch rather than eating out. Typically, you will never make a lunch that has as many calories as you will buy at a fast food outlet.
  3. If you are working from home – Try having a big salad rather than a sandwich. Include cheese or chick peas as a protein rather than meat.
  4. Portion side – Don’t go back for 2nds and avoid finishing the plates of your children or spouse.
  5. Ensure you are drinking lots of water. Drinking water can help you feel full while eating less.
  6. As suggested by Dr. Tim Caulfield , author of “A Cure for Everything” in a post from 2014 – 50 percent of what you eat should be a real fruit or real vegetable.  Real fruit or vegetables do not come in a package and are not processed.  Juice does not count. Similar to Dr Yoni Freehoff, a Assistant Professor from the University of Ottawa, I also view juice as the same as pop (with more vitamins).

More intensive suggestions include reading books like the The Diet Fix by Dr Yoni Freehoff, and Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.

 

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